[JURIST] China's chief justice has instructed judges to impose harsh sentences, including the death penalty, for violent crimes, China's Xinhua news agency reported Saturday. Touring the Guangdong province last week, president of the Supreme People's Court [official website] Wang Shengjun [official profile], said that crimes posing a serious threat to the "social order" should be dealt with especially harshly. The death penalty is thought to enjoy popular support in China despite growing international opinion against the practice [JURIST report]. The comments come amid efforts by the Supreme Court to drastically reduce the number of executions in China [JURIST report]. AP has more.
In response to wrongful convictions and international criticism, China implemented reforms [JURIST report] at the beginning of 2007 requiring all death sentences be approved [JURIST report] by the Supreme People's Court. High court vice-president Jiang Xingchang [official profile] said in September that death sentences handed down by Chinese courts were at a ten-year low in 2006 and the trend continued [JURIST report] in 2007.